The High Court today stayed Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) selection process in a Public Interest Litigation filed by some aggrieved candidates on alleged irregularities in conduct of Combined Competitive examination (Mains) held in July-August this year.
A division bench of the High Court comprising of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Sanjeev Kumar issued notice to the J&K Public service Commission (PSC) asking it to file its objections by or before the next date of hearing. The next date of hearing in the matter has been fixed on January 28, 2019.
“Meanwhile, till next date of hearing, there shall be stay of further selection process,” reads the order passed by the division bench of the J&K High Court.
The High Court has taken cognizance of a representation made by some 83 applicants on December 17, 2018 complaining the alleged irregularities in the J&K PSC Combined Competitive (Mains) examination held from July 2 to August 8, 2018.
The applicants have complained about digital marking in the examination, data corruption and huge human error.
According to the high court order, a copy of which is in possession of The Kashmir Despatch, these applicants have also alleged that PSC has resorted to arbitrary scaling and moderation which was not mentioned in the notification when the posts were advertised.
In its stay order that has been passed in the present PIL number 29 of 2018, the High Court has now asked the PSC to show cause as to why the petition of the aggrieved candidates be not admitted.
This notice was accepted by advocate Azhar ul Amin, the counsel appearing on behalf of the J&K PSC. In their representation, the aggrieved candidates have cited various single bench orders that have been passed in similar matters.
Meanwhile, senior lawyer Zaffar Ahmad Shah has been appointed by the High Court as amicus curie who shall examine the mater and place appropriate written submissions before the next date of hearing in the matter.
Pertinently, on December 17, 2018, while addressing a press conference after an uproar created by the aggrieved candidates, chairman PSC, Latief-u-Zaman Deva had claimed the result was completely “error free.”
“We’re using international standard of software and applying the most transparent techniques for the evaluation of answer scripts. So, I want to ensure it to the protesting youngsters that our system of evaluation is completely error-free and there is no question of discrepancies in the declaration of results,” Deva had said.
The PSC chairman had said, “In the process of digital system of evaluation of answer scripts, scanned copies go to the evaluation centres, also called the hub. The evaluators after going through the answer scripts, award the marks. These are then recorded with the answer script in the computer. This goes back to the central record room.”
He had further added: “Now, there are software programmes which have been adopted by the higher agency for verifying the authenticity of the record to check whether there was any discrepancy. All the programmes have been applied and the software of international standards used for the evaluation.”
“Even after technological advancements, in terms of our own regulation, we also adopted manual checks and in this system also, we found no mistakes,” he had informed the media.
The chairman J&KPSC had said: “Some candidates had later approached the commission through representations and we again conducted checking and found no variation in the results. So, I want to tell the youngsters that our system was completely error-free.”
Deva said that J&KPSC is not the only institution that is using the digital system of evaluation.
“Commissions of Gujarat, Rajasthan and other premier institutions of the country also conduct examination through digital mode and use same technology. Over the years, various software programmes have been developed to ensure error-free examination. We’re also using the same software programmes. Question of discrepancies doesn’t arise then,” he said.
Deva had said the commission switched over to the digital mode of evaluation from the manual mode to avoid the wastage of time in the declaration of the result and ensure zero discrepancy in the result.